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The BBC's Naresh Puri
"Does the off-beat approach to race work?"
 real 56k

Friday, 1 December, 2000, 00:31 GMT
Stars change race for ad
Peter Stringfellow in CRE ad
Peter Stringfellow relaxes in his new guise
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Celebrities including Spice Girl Melanie B, Chris Evans and boxer Lennox Lewis change race in a series of TV ads designed to combat racism.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, footballers David Seaman and Andy Cole, boxer Prince Naseem Hamed and nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow also appear in the campaign for the Commission For Racial Equality.

Chris Evans appears as a bald black man, while Prince Naseem becomes a white man with blue eyes and a blonde quiff.

The transformations were made by the same special effects team which worked on the Russell Crowe film Gladiator.

Prince Naseem Hamed in CRE ad
Prince Naseem Hamed takes on a new look
Peter Stringfellow - black and naked - asks viewers whether they find him "more irresistible" in his new guise, and Mr Livingstone asks if he would have been elected mayor if he was Asian.

During the making of the advertisement, each person spent 30 minutes sitting perfectly still in a dentist-style chair.

They wore make-up to alter their skin colour, and their facial features were filmed and then transferred onto body doubles.

It took a year for the advertisement's producers to find doubles of different races who had the same facial complexions.

Kai Hsiung, of RSA Films, said: "Chris Evans loved the result and kept the make-up on afterwards so he could go and surprise a friend in hospital.

"Mel B laughed and laughed at herself. She was filmed the same day as Andy Cole and he was winding her up that she looked better than before."

Lennox Lewis in CRE ad
Lennox Lewis keeps his beard
The singer, who appears as white with long blonde hair, said: "Hopefully this ad will have an impact and sink in because it's so dramatic.

"Britain is very multi-cultural and we're stupid to think we can ignore it."

David Seaman, who appears as a black man with dreadlocks, said: "I was tempted to keep the make-up on get some petrol on the way home and see what the reaction was."

The advertisement makes its debut on Channel 4 on Friday evening.

Manchester United star Andy Cole
Melanie B in CRE ad
Blonde ambition: Spice Girl Melanie B
Chris Evans in CRE ad
Chris Evans asks if viewers would still find him annoying
David Seaman in CRE ad
David Seaman wanted to keep his new look

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See also:

20 Nov 00 | Education
Young black people demand a say
17 Oct 00 | UK
The black and black divide
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